Kitchen Garden Seeds

Easy Direct-Sow Swiss Chard

Easy Direct-Sow
Before direct-sowing the seed, loosen the soil and add compost and organic fertilizer. Plant the seeds a half inch deep and about 2 inches apart. Swiss Chard seeds germinate best when the soil is 50°F to 65°F. Direct-sow seed after the threat of frost has passed, when the soil has warmed up to about 50°F. Keep the soil consistently moist until the seedlings break the surface, which usually takes 5 to 10 days. For baby greens, sow 2″ apart in rows spaced 12″ apart and harvested when 2″ to 3″ tall. For mature, full-size Chard, thin seedlings to 10″ apart in rows spaced 16″ to 20″ apart. To harvest, cut off the outer leaves of these grand plants which keep on producing, even through a light frost. Water Swiss Chard regularly in dry periods to help keep the stems from becoming woody. Baby leaves may harvested through the season in the ‘cut and come again’ method for fresh salads as well as cooked as one would in Spinach recipes. Generally, about a month later, mature leaves may be stripped from their stems and chiffonaded for pasta sauces, hearty soups and stews.

Direct-Sow Swiss Chard Seeds In August for Autumn Harvest
Though most of the Swiss Chard plants that were started last spring are still producing succulent leaves, we recommend seeding a second fall crop of Swiss Chard right about now. Top chefs know that when Swiss Chard leaves are no bigger than your hand, they are at their peak of color, flavor, texture and nutritional value. The seeds you plant now will germinate quickly, yielding perfect, fresh leaves in October and November. This fall, you and your family will be feasting on young, tender Swiss Chard leaves that are of a quality and freshness about which most restaurant chefs can only dream.

One would have to think long and hard to come up with a vegetable that’s easier and more productive than Swiss Chard. It's almost effortless to direct-sow Swiss Chard seeds now for big results in about 30 days. Before direct-sowing the seed, loosen the soil and add compost and organic fertilizer. Plant the seeds a half inch deep and about 2 inches apart. Swiss Chard seeds germinate best when the soil is 50°F to 65°F: you can improve germination by covering the newly seeded areas with shade cloth to keep the soil cool and moist. Keep the soil consistently moist until the seedlings break the surface, which usually takes 5 to 10 days. As the days get shorter, plants grow more slowly. To ensure abundance, make your fall planting of Swiss Chard two to three times larger than your spring planting. For baby greens, sow seed 2 inches apart in rows spaced 12 inches apart. For mature, full-size Chard, thin seedlings to 10 inches apart in rows spaced 16 to 20 inches apart. To harvest as baby leaves, scissor-cut when just 2 to 3 inches tall and tender. To harvest as mature leaves, cut off the outer leaves: the plant will keep on producing, even after a light kiss of frost. For kitchen gardeners in colder areas of the U.S., you might be interested to know that although all Swiss Chard is cold-tolerant, the very most cold-tolerant variety is Argentata Swiss Chard. And the two quickest growing varieties are Magenta Sunset and Orange Chiffon. Once mature, all of our Swiss Chard varieties grow from 16 to 24 inches tall.

Chic Edible Garden Design
If your summer annuals have petered out and been removed, you can revitalize your garden borders with a late summer sowing of Swiss Chard. It is so in vogue now to interplant edibles with ornamentals. Before you succumb to its charms and eat it, you will be so pleased with the undulating border-wave of shades-of-green leaves that shimmer and spark in autumn's magical golden afternoon sunlight.